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The Best Homemade Mexican Salsa Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".

Homemade Mexican Salsa

Homemade Mexican Salsa

Authentic Restaurant-Style Salsa Made From Fresh or Canned Tomatoes

Streetlights flickered across the dusty lanes of La Yarada as Gloria flipped tortillas over a fiery comal, which she inherited from her grandmother. Ice cubes clinked inside a cocktail shaker as Joshua sloshed a tequila, amaretto and lime concoction into salted margarita glasses.

Joshua and Gloria, expats living in Peru, still have a powerful connection with Mexico. Gloria was born in the United States to parents of Mexican descent and prepares family recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Before meeting Gloria, I assumed that salsa or picante sauce would be too difficult and time-consuming to prepare at home. How wrong I was! I'm forever grateful to her for generously sharing this family recipe with us, and thus with all of you.

Gloria's addictive salsa showcases the simple textures and flavors of the region: pungent garlic, earthy cilantro, spicy chili and sweet tomato, all of which adds up to a complex, beautifully balanced sauce. This salsa can be made winter or summer, with either fresh or canned tomatoes. We must warn, though, that it comes with a disclaimer: once you’ve tasted authentic Mexican salsa there’s no going back. The fresh flavor will linger in your memory even longer than it lingers on your tongue. After you see how quickly and easily it comes together, you’ll never again buy flavorless jarred salsa!

the-best-homemade-mexican-salsa-recipe

Tips for Preparing the Perfect Salsa

  • Flash sauté diced onion and garlic for only 10 seconds. If you sauté it much longer, the onion will become too sweet and alter the salsa’s flavor.
  • Very ripe Roma or any meaty tomato is the best choice for cooking.
  • Why cook the salsa? Simmering blends the flavors and evaporates liquids, so you won't have a watery mess which is the bane of blended, uncooked salsas.
  • You can choose either fresh or canned tomatoes for this recipe. If using canned, skip to "step 3" of the instructions section.
  • If fresh tomatoes are ripe but still firm try The Best Authentic Pico de Gallo, a delicious fresh salsa recipe.
  • Cilantro is also called Chinese parsley or coriander.
  • For spicy salsa, use a ratio of one hot pepper to three large tomatoes. Rocoto is the chile of choice in Peru, but use any chile available in your area. Add more hot peppers or a pepper higher on the Scoville scale for more heat.
  • For mild salsa try hot peppers lower on the Scoville scale, such as poblano or even bell pepper. Remove all veins and seeds. Offer pickled serrano peppers to guests who enjoy fiery salsa. Buy an authentic brand such as Herdez.
  • For low sodium salsa, omit the salt. Use fresh or low sodium canned tomatoes. Add cumin, extra garlic and cilantro to amp up the flavor. Finish cooled salsa with fresh lemon or lime juice to taste.
  • Fire-roast the chiles for smoky salsa, or try Smoke Seasoning Blend pictured in the "serving ideas" section at the bottom of this page.
  • Add a pinch of sugar or a dollop of tomato paste for sweet and thick salsa.
  • Enjoy chilled or warm salsa with chips. Serve warm salsa over hot food.
  • If you prefer smooth salsa, blend sauteed onion and garlic with tomatoes before simmering.
  • Cumin is optional in authentic Mexican salsa. Try the cumin for delicious Tex-Mex flavor.
  • If the fresh tomatoes are very juicy, you may need a slightly longer simmer time to thicken up the salsa.

Gloria's Authentic Salsa

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

15 min

25 min

Serves 6

This recipe makes about 3 cups of homemade salsa. Store salsa in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or store in the freezer for up to one year.

Ingredients

  • 6–8 large Roma tomatoes (2 lbs/1 kilo) OR 2 14.5-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 small or 1 medium onion(s), diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2–3 hot peppers (see tips), seeded and halved
  • 1/2 to 1 cup (a handful or two) fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • juice of one lemon or lime, optional

Instructions

  1. If using canned tomatoes, skip to step 3. If you have fresh tomatoes, add 1/2 an inch of water to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Core and halve tomatoes and set them, cut side up, in the skillet.
  2. While you dice the onions, simmer tomatoes until water evaporates and tomatoes start to soften. Peel and discard any skins that have loosened during steaming.
  3. Toss tomatoes, hot peppers and cilantro into a blender container. Blend until smooth.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil for about 10 seconds; just a flash in the pan.
  5. Add blended tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and garlic and give it a stir.
  6. Season with salt and ground pepper to taste. Add cumin if desired.
  7. Simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes, or until salsa has reduced and thickened. You may need to increase cook time if tomatoes are very juicy.
  8. You can add the juice of a fresh lime or lemon at this point, although it's not necessary and will temper the salsa's spiciness.
  9. Serve with tortilla chips, enchiladas, tacos, scrambled eggs, quesadillas, etc.

Servings Suggestions

  • Serve Gloria's salsa and Authentic Guacamole with Homemade Tortilla Chips for a light appetizer.
  • Spoon warm salsa over scrambled eggs or an omelette for breakfast.
  • Salsa makes a healthy dip for raw veggies such as cauliflower, carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, etc.
  • Pour salsa over beans and rice for authentic flavor.
  • Stir a teaspoon of sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese into salsa for a quick and tasty salad dressing.
  • Top a baked potato with spicy homemade salsa for a quick, low-calorie lunch.
  • Treat your family to a restaurant-style experience by heating tortilla chips in a 350 F oven until warm. Sprinkle with lime salt and serve with homemade salsa.
  • Make homemade lime salt by grating a little lime zest (preferably with a microplaner) into a pile of salt.
  • Serve warm salsa with enchiladas, tacos, burritos or other typical Mexican fare such as Healthy Grilled Tostadas.
  • An icy, Texan Margarita cocktail is the perfect complement for salsa and chips.
  • Or try a Frosty Pisco Sour cocktail for an exotic Peruvian touch.
  • Learn How to Make the Best Limeade for a great non-alcoholic beverage choice.

Rate This Recipe

Questions & Answers

Question: Why is oregano not used in your salsa recipe?

Answer: Oregano has not been tested in this salsa recipe, but please feel free to use it if you like.

Question: Can this salsa recipe be canned?

Answer: Recipes for canning have a specific acidity. This recipe has not been tested for canning.

Question: Why do you cook the salsa for 15 minutes? Couldn't you just put it in the refrigerator and let the ingredients marry without cooking them?

Answer: Uncooked is another type of salsa that is also delicious. Cooking breaks down the ingredients, evaporates the liquid and concentrates the flavors in this recipe. You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator and the marriage of flavors makes it even more delicious the next day. I hope you have the chance to try this delicious cooked salsa!

Comments

Aanvi from United States on September 06, 2019:

Homemade salsa is the best. Wonderful recipe. Thanks.

Luke St Clair from Irving, Tx on May 22, 2019:

Another recipe that I have to try.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 15, 2016:

Thank you for taking a peek and for your nice comment, ChitrangadaSharan!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 15, 2016:

Congratulations for the well deserved Hubbie award for this hub!

Enjoyed going through your evergreen hub.

Thanks and have a delightful day!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 07, 2016:

Jancd, I appreciate you taking the time to review this recipe. I'm glad you and your grandson enjoyed it and you plan to make another batch. Enjoy!

Jancd on June 06, 2016:

Tried this recipe today. My grandson LOVED it. I thought it was yummy, too. I liked it even better once it had cooled in the fridge. Will be making it again tomorrow!!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on December 20, 2014:

Strangeaslife, the acidity of lemon juice lifts and freshens the flavor of the salsa. If you're going to can the salsa, it also increases the acidity level which is important for safe canning. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

strangeaslife on December 20, 2014:

I noticed you add the lime after cooking. Is that purely for flavor purposes or could it have something to do with creating unsafe acidity levels?

K. Michelle on October 13, 2014:

The salsa recipe looks delicious, I will definitely try it out!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 04, 2014:

Chris Munn, it's so nice to meet someone with Peruvian connections! What a treat that your wife has introduced you to so many Peruvian favorites. I've found that Peruvians are very proud of their cuisine and every region has their own specialties. I'm glad you found this salsa recipe. It's simple to prepare and my favorite salsa. Thanks for coming by and leaving a meaningful comment.

Chris Munn on September 27, 2014:

I was surfing for a good recipe source & picked a very basic dish. I then looked for one that had not been played with too much, and then I found you & Gloria's salsa. Success! I also started my food journey at a young age, with my grandmother as my tutor& guide.

After moving from Texas I could not find good Mexican, or Tex-Mex so I started experimenting on my own & with help from my wife & some of her friends. Now most of our Mex & Tex-Mex meals are at home.

My wife did not start cooking until shortly before moving to the US. She also is from Peru and so the first meal she prepared for me was Aji de Gallina. From Chicha to Pisco & Papa Relleno to Ceviche she has taken me on a gastronomic adventure thru Peru & other parts of South America. We look forward to reading more from you.

Your new followers, Chris y Marite'

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 24, 2014:

Pateluday, thanks for the condiment advice!

Uday Patel from Jabalpur, MP, India on September 23, 2014:

A little more of garlic and coriander dash of white pepper. I have been making this since some time. Make a fine paste. I did not know you could store this for a year. Thanks a lot!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 13, 2014:

Thanks tom yam!

Russell Pittock from Nakon Sawan Province, Thailand. on September 13, 2014:

What a mouthwatering hub. I can't wait to try out some of these recipes and ideas. Many thanks for shareing.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 03, 2014:

Enjoy DDE! This is a great salsa recipe.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 03, 2014:

Hi while browsing online for a recipe to make salsa I came across this one. I am impressed in the simple ingredients used. I will surely try your recipe.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 05, 2014:

Thanks for your comment grand old lady!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 05, 2014:

I love salsa and your recipe sounds yummy. Especially love the ideas of pouring it over omelets and baked potatoes. Fantastic.

Abi Helen on June 29, 2014:

wow, that looks yummy !! :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 07, 2014:

yum, homemade salsa are still the best

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on June 01, 2014:

Nice recipe! Vote up!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 29, 2014:

PegCole17, thanks for pinning this popular recipe!

Jacob Robinson on April 29, 2014:

Great recipe.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 29, 2014:

Beautiful pictures with easy instructions. I'll be pinning this recipe to my food ideas board. Yumm!

ecofuture on April 02, 2014:

Great recipe!!! Thank you!!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 28, 2014:

VVanNess, I'm glad you're going to try this very popular salsa recipe!

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 27, 2014:

Yum!! I love restaurant style salsa. I've never thought of cooking the salsa to meld the flavors. Genius! I'll have to give this one a shot!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 24, 2014:

Ilikegames, thanks for your comment!

Sarah Forester from Australia on February 24, 2014:

Yum! Makes me hungry just looking at it, I'll try this one for our next Salsa night.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 18, 2014:

Lesliebyars, this is our go-to salsa recipe and very popular with our friends and family. I hope you can try it sometime! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

lesliebyars on January 18, 2014:

This looks like an easy salsa recipe. Thank you so much for sharing with the rest of us. I voted up and useful. I love to try new recipes and this looks like a great one!!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 09, 2014:

toptenhome, I hope you enjoy this easy and flavorful salsa.

Brandon Hart from Atlanta, Georgia, USA on January 09, 2014:

This salsa looks so amazing. I can't wait to try it out.

Thanks.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 05, 2014:

Better Yourself, I'm glad you're going to try this popular salsa recipe. We also love salsa and chips and have tried many, but this is our all-time favorite recipe. You can't beat homemade. Enjoy and thanks for coming by.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on January 05, 2014:

Great hub, so excited about trying this recipe! I love chips and salsa and store bought just doesn't cut it. Thanks for sharing!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 26, 2013:

Leastamplbc, enjoy! Thanks for coming by.

leastamplbc from Fowlerville Mi on October 25, 2013:

Never tried this cooked style before, I will now. Thanks for the inspiration.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 22, 2013:

SamitaJassi, I'm glad you like the sound of this recipe. I hope you can try it soon! It's so versatile and delicious served with many foods. Enjoy!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 07, 2013:

AudreyHowitt, I hope you can try this homemade salsa soon. Enjoy!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 07, 2013:

JustAskSusan, thank you for the kind words!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 07, 2013:

bestentryDSLR, we just love the Blendtec! What a great machine for making quick and easy salsa. Enjoy this delicious salsa...thank you for the vote and comment.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 06, 2013:

I am so in the mood for this! Yum!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on September 06, 2013:

I love your recipes and this one is great!

bestentryDSLR on September 05, 2013:

I have a Blendtec and we have a recipe that is in the cookbook that I love. I will be trying this recipe for sure. Voted up!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 01, 2013:

mesling, I always enjoy receiving positive feedback on this recipe. As far as we´re concerned, it´s the best salsa around! Thank you for taking the time to comment.

melsing on September 01, 2013:

love, love, love this recipe!!!! just made it and it is a huge hit!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 06, 2013:

Vacation Trip, this is a very popular salsa recipe and it's easy to make. Hope you can try it sometime!

Susan from India on August 05, 2013:

Wow.. That looks simply mouth watering. Thanks for sharing.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 30, 2013:

karinagw, thank you for the glowing report! We also enjoy salsa with a little more texture. Next time you can add more peppers for extra spice. We have several friends who don't enjoy the flavor of cilantro, either. One says it tastes like dirt! So we have experimented with cilantro-less salsa and found a little lime rounds on the flavors. Thanks again for your feedback. Have a great week.

karinagw on July 30, 2013:

Update: Because I was paranoid about the peppers, I actually could have upped them a smidge. OTOH, right now it has a gentle heat which won't burn you out after a couple bites. I did lie though. I omitted the celantro because I am one of those whose tastebuds interpret it as soap. Something tastes like it needs a little more of something, but possibly I mis-measured because the taste is wonderful..I might not whirl the tomatoes quite as much next time though. Boy, this a long comment to basically say Brava.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 30, 2013:

karinagw, that sounds like some spicy salsa you´re whipping up! Makes my mouth water just thinking of it. Of course, simmering time depends on burner heat level and the type of pot used. We use a skillet which is shallow enough to make a quick job of simmering. Enjoy the salsa and wine and thanks for your comment!

karinagw on July 29, 2013:

Making this right this very second. Following exactly to start with..except am throwing in a couple of Thai peppers along with the 4 smallish jalapenos...which I may regret...them things are supposed to be killer hot. I will say, that it is taking significantly longer than the 10 minutes prep time for the water to simmer off (step 2), but I'm in no huge hurry....I have wine.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 28, 2013:

Hezekiah, enjoy the salsa and thanks for your comment.

Hezekiah from Japan on July 28, 2013:

Nice, never thought of making Salsa myself. Must give it a try.

Enrico Billy from shanghai on July 16, 2013:

en.......looks yummy,I have had that kind of salsa in the hotel,the executive chef was american.I will do it by myself!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 15, 2013:

VB News, I know what you mean! Once you've had homemade salsa there's no more eating jarred salsa. Thanks for coming by!

VB News on July 15, 2013:

We have grown the ingredients and made our own fresh salsa for many years! If I brought grocery salsa home, it would sit on the shelf. Great recipe!

Carl Junior on July 06, 2013:

Wow, your recipe just made my mouth water, I can't wait to try it out sometime this week. Thank you for sharing, I voted it up and inter sting.

Media-gp on July 06, 2013:

Good

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on July 04, 2013:

Absolutely Delicious!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 10, 2013:

Las81071, I do hope you have the chance to try this recipe. It's quick, easy and makes the best salsa we've ever tried. Thanks for coming by!

las81071 on June 10, 2013:

this sounds really good. I tried to make homemade salsa one time with out a recipes I did not cook the tomatoes it was a mess. Now that I have a recipes to follow I might just try again. thanks

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 28, 2013:

InsightfulTiger, how interesting that your mother-in-law is from Peru. Mexican salsa is so versatile and delicious...thanks for the pin and share!

Insightful Tiger on May 27, 2013:

This looks great! My mother in law is from Peru and she makes ssalsa just like this. It is so yummy! I will pin for later use. Thanks for sharing :)

Kenneth C Agudo from Tiwi, Philippines on May 26, 2013:

looks very yummy ;-)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 21, 2013:

Nicole S, I know what you mean! This salsa is irresistible! Enjoy.

Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on May 21, 2013:

YUM. I totally want chips and salsa now!!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 02, 2013:

Mercuryservices, thanks for your enthusiastic comment!

Alex Munkachy from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 02, 2013:

That is the way they do it in Mexico! Buen Provecho!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 30, 2013:

healthyfitness, I'm glad you're going to sample this salsa. It's delicious, easy and healthy. Thanks for your comment.

Rick Grimes on April 30, 2013:

This looks great! I'm going to try it next time i'm feeling mexican

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 29, 2013:

cianeko, nice of you to stop by!

Nik Abueva from Manila on April 29, 2013:

Yummy!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 28, 2013:

Kevin Peter, I appreciate your feedback! This salsa is very tasty and easy to make, too. Thanks for your comment!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 28, 2013:

Au fait, thank you for the link! I also appreciate the vote and share. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on April 28, 2013:

The step by step instructions in the hub helped me to prepare the Mexican Salsa very easily. It tasted really very good.Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

C E Clark from North Texas on April 28, 2013:

This looks wonderful and I have to bookmark it! I've added a link to this hub on my "Quick and Easy Mexican Corn In a Cup" hub. Also, voting up and awesome. Will share.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 21, 2013:

Deborah-Diane, I hope you have a chance to try this with some garden-fresh tomatoes although it's just as delicious made with canned tomatoes. Thanks for your comment!

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on April 21, 2013:

This sounds like a wonderful recipe. I love that you can make it from either fresh or canned tomatoes. This is a nice complement to your recipe for pico de gallo.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 02, 2013:

Sarahmarie, I always love a good review on my favorite salsa. Thanks for the tip on the seeds. Now my mouth is watering for spicy salsa! I appreciate your comment.

sarahmarie86 on April 02, 2013:

I made this and it's amazing! I left Texas about a year ago and have been missing authentic Tex-Mex salsa so much... until I found this recipe! I use 4 jalapenos, and leave some seeds in, to make it a little spicier :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 18, 2013:

Sonya-Artis, glad you're going to give it a try! This is our go-to recipe for salsa. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Sonya Artis from Kansas City, MO/Ft. Lauderdale, FL on March 17, 2013:

I am going to try this next weekend. Thank you for the recipe.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 12, 2013:

csbigson, we don't have good salsa in Peru, either, but this salsa is so quick and easy to make. I hope you can try it! Thanks for coming by.

Craig Gibson from Traverse City Michigan on March 12, 2013:

Where I live, it is difficult to find good salsa, so I always make my own from scratch. Your recipe has given me some ideas to try. Thanks.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 09, 2013:

Hezekiah, I hope you can try this salsa recipe soon! It's our favorite and we make a batch almost every week. Thanks for the vote!

Hezekiah from Japan on March 09, 2013:

Excellent, I always wanted to be able to mix the perfect blend of Salse to suit everyone. Voted up.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 07, 2013:

SidKemp, I'm glad you see the beauty in good Mexican food. I'm sure it's just as hard to find in S. Florida as in Peru! Good thing we can make it at home. : )

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on March 07, 2013:

Not only delicious, but beautiful. It reminds me of the good old days when I lived in San Antonio. Good Tex Mex is rare in South Florida.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 06, 2013:

viewfinders, I hope you can try this with your mom's help. If you have a blender, it's really easy to make. You'll have salsa in no time. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 06, 2013:

livingsta, I'm glad you're going to try this salsa--enjoy! Thanks for the votes, share and pin!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 06, 2013:

Simba, I'm glad you're going to try the salsa. Enjoy and thank you for coming by!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 06, 2013:

uknown spy, you find one of my popular Hubs. I hope you enjoy the salsa--it's amazing--and thanks for coming by!

viewfinders from India on March 06, 2013:

really good recipe,vote up and thanks for sharing with us.

may try at home with my mom's help

livingsta from United Kingdom on March 06, 2013:

Thank you for this easy home made recipe. I love salsa too. Going to give this a try.

Voted up useful, awesome, sharing and pinning!

Jon from UK on March 05, 2013:

Wow, I'm making salsa today after reading this !!! great hub !!!

Keep them coming !!

Simba

Life Under Construction from Neverland on March 05, 2013:

that is sooo fetch! so amazing. I love the output! im going to try this one! thankkksss!! shared

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 03, 2013:

beingwell, thanks for the votes and share. Salsa really is delicious and so versatile. I appreciate your visit!

beingwell from Bangkok on March 03, 2013:

Voting this up! and sharing it, as well! I seriously adore salsa! I don't eat raw tomatoes...except when you're in a salsa mix! Simply yum!!